Mash Cen­tral tops list of new tobacco grow­ers

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Mashonaland Central & West News - Elita Chik­wati Se­nior Agri­cul­ture Re­porter

MORE than 29 000 farm­ers coun­try­wide have reg­is­tered to grow tobacco for the first time with Mashona­land Cen­tral, lead­ing the list of the new regis­tra­tions for the 2017-2018 crop­ping sea­son.

Lat­est statis­tics from the Tobacco In­dus­try and Mar­ket­ing Board (TIMB) in­di­cate that 29 158 new grow­ers have reg­is­tered for the first time.

This is an in­crease of 115 per­cent from the 13 540 new grow­ers who had reg­is­tered to grow the cash crop dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the TIMB statis­tics, Mashona­land Cen­tral has 11 530 new grow­ers this sea­son, up from the 5 645 grow­ers who had reg­is­tered dur­ing the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod last year.

Mashona­land West is on the sec­ond po­si­tion with 9 652 new grow­ers, up from the 5 175 who had reg­is­tered last year.

Man­i­ca­land has 4 621 from 1 440 last year and Mashona­land East has 3 215 new grow­ers from 1 238 last year.

Mid­lands and Masvingo have 112 and 28 new grow­ers re­spec­tively from the 36 and six grow­ers who had reg­is­tered dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

So far farm­ers have planted 15 874 hectares of flue-cured tobacco this sea­son, up from 14 102 dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

Ac­cord­ing to farm­ers’ or­gan­i­sa­tions, there are few chal­lenges in the tobacco sec­tor as most farm­ers did not have prob­lems ac­cess­ing in­puts.

The bulk of tobacco grow­ers pro­duce the crop un­der con­tract farm­ing ar­range­ments.

Con­trac­tors sup­ply farm­ers with in­puts such as fer­tilis­ers, chem­i­cals and some­times pay for labour.

Most farm­ers have opted to pro­duce tobacco un­der con­tract farm­ing as the buy­ers of­fer high prices than they do at the auc­tion floors.

This has af­fected op­er­a­tions at auc­tion floors and Gov­ern­ment had to in­ter­vene with a $28 mil­lion fa­cil­ity to as­sist small-scale farm­ers, who do not have ac­cess to fund­ing and also keep auc­tion floors from col­laps­ing.

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